Beyond the Synagogue Gallery recounts the emergence of new roles for American Jewish women in public worship and synagogue life. Karla Goldman's study of changing patterns of female religiosity is a story of acculturation, of adjustments made to fit Jewish worship into American society.
Goldman focuses on the nineteenth century. This was an era in which immigrant communities strove for middle-class respectability for themselves and their religion, even while fearing a loss of traditions and identity. For acculturating Jews some practices, like the ritual bath, quickly disappeared. Women's traditional segregation from the service in screened women's galleries was gradually replaced by family pews and mixed choirs. By the end of the century, with the rising tide of Jewish immigration from Russia and Eastern Europe, the spread of women's social and religious activism within a network of organizations brought collective strength to the nation's established Jewish community. Throughout these changing times, though, Goldman notes persistent ambiguous feelings about the appropriate place of women in Judaism, even among reformers.
This account of the evolving religious identities of American Jewish women expands our understanding of women's religious roles and of the Americanization of Judaism in the nineteenth century; it makes an essential contribution to the history of religion in America.
Over the centuries, Jewish and Muslim writers transformed the biblical Queen of Sheba from a clever, politically astute sovereign to a demonic force threatening the boundaries of gender. In this book, Jacob Lassner shows how successive retellings of the biblical story reveal anxieties about gender and illuminate the processes of cultural transmission.
The Bible presents the Queen of Sheba's encounter with King Solomon as a diplomatic mission: the queen comes "to test him with hard questions," all of which he answers to her satisfaction; she then praises him and, after an exchange of gifts, returns to her own land. By the Middle Ages, Lassner demonstrates, the focus of the queen's visit had shifted from international to sexual politics. The queen was now portrayed as acting in open defiance of nature's equilibrium and God's design. In these retellings, the authors humbled the queen and thereby restored the world to its proper condition.
Lassner also examines the Islamization of Jewish themes, using the dramatic accounts of Solomon and his female antagonist as a test case of how Jewish lore penetrated the literary imagination of Muslims. Demonizing the Queen of Sheba thus addresses not only specialists in Jewish and Islamic studies, but also those concerned with issues of cultural transmission and the role of gender in history.
This book offers a fresh perspective on classical Jewish literature by providing a gender-based, feminist reading of rabbinical anecdotes and legends. Viewing rabbinical legends as sources that generate perceptions about women and gender, Inbar Raveh provides answers to questions such as how the Sages viewed women; how they formed and molded their characterization of them; how they constructed the ancient discourse on femininity; and what the status of women was in their society. Raveh also re-creates the voices and stories of the women themselves within their sociohistorical context, moving them from the periphery to the center and exposing how men maintain power. Chapter topics include desire and control, pain, midwives, prostitutes, and myth. A major contribution to the fields of literary criticism and Jewish studies, Raveh’s book demonstrates the possibility of appreciating the aesthetic beauty and complexity of patriarchal texts, while at the same time recognizing their limitations.
The Miriam Tradition works from the premise that religious values form in and through movement, with ritual and dance developing patterns for enacting those values. Cia Sautter considers the case of Sephardic Jewish women who, following in the tradition of Miriam the prophet, performed dance and music for Jewish celebrations and special occasions. She uses rabbinic and feminist understandings of the Torah to argue that these women, called tanyaderas, "taught" Jewish values by leading appropriate behavior for major life events.
Sautter considers the religious values that are in music and dance performed by tanyaderas and examines them in conjunction with written and visual records and evidence from dance and music traditions. Explaining the symbolic gestures and motions encoded in dances, Sautter shows how rituals display deeply held values that are best expressed through the body. The book argues that the activities of women in other religions might also be examined for their embodiment and display of important values, bringing forgotten groups of women back into the historical record as important community leaders
Celebrate a trailblazer in the areas of women and re
Celebrate a trailblazer in the areas of women and religion, Jews and Judaism, and earliest Christianity in the ancient Mediterranean
Ross Kraemer is Professor Emerita in the Department of Religious Studies at Brown University. This volume of essays, conceived and produced by students, colleagues, and friends bears witness to the breadth of her own scholarly interests. Contributors include Theodore A. Bergren, Debra Bucher, Lynn Cohick, Mary Rose D’Angelo, Nathaniel P. DesRosiers, Robert Doran, Jennifer Eyl, Paula Fredriksen, John G. Gager, Maxine Grossman, Kim Haines-Eitzen, Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Jordan Kraemer, Robert A. Kraft, Shira L. Lander, Amy-Jill Levine, Susan Marks, E. Ann Matter, Renee Levine Melammed, Susan Niditch, Elaine Pagels, Adele Reinhartz, Jordan Rosenblum, Sarah Schwarz, Karen B. Stern, Stanley K. Stowers, Daniel Ullucci, Arthur Urbano, Heidi Wendt, and Benjamin G. Wright.
Articles that examine both ancient and modern texts in cross-cultural and trans-historical perspective
Twenty-eight original essays on ancient Judaism, Christianity, and women in the Greco-Roman world
This volume, an amazing act of historical recovery and reconstruction, offers a comprehensive examination of Jewish women in Europe during the High Middle Ages (1000–1300). Avraham Grossman covers multiple aspects of women’s lives in medieval Jewish society, including the image of woman, the structure of the family unit, age at marriage, position in family and society, her place in economic and religious life, her education, her role in family ceremonies, violence against women, and the position of the divorcée and the widow in society. Grossman shows that the High Middle Ages saw a distinct improvement in the status of Jewish women in Europe relative to their status during the Talmudic period and in Muslim countries. If, during the twelfth century, rabbis applauded women as "pious and pure" because of their major role in the martyrdom of the Crusades of 1096, then by the end of the thirteenth century, rabbis complained that women were becoming bold and rebellious. Two main factors fostered this change: first, the transformation of Jewish society from agrarian to "bourgeois," with women performing an increasingly important function in the family economy; and second, the openness toward women in Christian Europe, where women were not subjected to strict limitations based upon conceptions of modesty, as was the case in Muslim countries. The heart of Grossman’s book concerns the improvement of Jewish women’s lot, and the efforts of secular and religious authorities to impede their new-found status. Bringing together a variety of sources including halakhic literature, biblical and talmudic exegesis, ethical literature and philosophy, love songs, folklore and popular literature, gravestones, and drawings, Grossman’s book reconstructs the hitherto unrecorded lives of Jewish women during the Middle Ages.
In the 1960s, Jewish music in America began to evolve. Traditional liturgical tunes developed into a blend of secular and sacred sound that became known in the 1980s as “American Nusach.” Chief among these developments was the growth of feminist Jewish songwriting. In this lively study, Sarah M. Ross brings together scholarship on Jewish liturgy, U.S. history, and musical ethnology to describe the multiple roots and development of feminist Jewish music in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Focusing on the work of prolific songwriters such as Debbie Friedman, Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael, Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel, and Linda Hirschhorn, this volume illuminates the biographies and oeuvres of innovators in the field, and shows how this new musical form arose from the rich contexts of feminism, identity politics, folk music, and Judaism. In addition to providing deep content analysis of individual songs, Ross examines the feminist Jewish music scene across the United States, the reception of this music, challenges to disseminating the music beyond informal settings, and the state of Jewish music publishing. Rounding out the picture of the transformation of Jewish music, the volume contains appendixes of songs and songwriters a selection of musical transcriptions of feminist Jewish songs, and a comprehensive discography. This book will interest scholars and students in the fields of American Jewish history, women’s studies, feminism, ethnomusicology, and contemporary popular and folk music.
An international collection of ecumenical, gender-sensitive interpretations
The latest volume in the Bible and Women series seeks to provide an ecumenical, gender-sensitive interpretation and reception history of the Writings and later wisdom traditions including Ben Sira and the Wisdom of Solomon. Articles trace the living conditions of women, examine the presentation of female figures in the Israelite wisdom tradition, discuss women and gender relations in single books, and explore narratives about great female protagonists, such as Ruth, Esther, and Susanna, who prove their wit and strength in situations of conflict.
Essays by scholars from five European countries, Israel, and the United States
An introduction and fourteen essays focused on women and gender relations
Coverage of power relations and ideologies within the texts and in current interpretations.